Signs #11 – What’s the Problem?

Last Updated on September 15, 2014 by Red Nomad OZ

What do overseas visitors make of Australia’s more esoteric pictorial instructions? Space constraints mean non-English wording is often limited – or non-existent! So the sign designer is stuck with conveying important, but sometimes obscure facts and instructions with stick figures.

Their success necessarily relies on reader ability to immediately interpret the pictures correctly and heed their warnings and messages without the benefit of English comprehension.

It’s an interesting exercise to test the clarity of the more cryptic drawings by ignoring the accompanying text – and any other linguistic clues – while trying to work out what they mean. And the result isn’t always what the signmaker intended!!

So … it was a relief that at least THIS sign at the Kanyaka Ruins Woolshed gave four VERY clear pictorial messages! 

And these are, as I’m sure you’ll agree, from left to right:

  1. Perform your headstands in the space between buildings
  2. The bollards are floodlit to prevent you bumping into them
  3. The wall is as good a protection as any from errant seaspray
  4. Way-station for endurance ice skating/skiing

Or maybe not??

If my interpretation is wrong, it’s a testament to the perils of either monolingualism, or weathering – or both! But if I’m right? Well … the South Australian State Government need fear no reprisals from accident, injury or death arising from failure to heed the warnings!!

So what do YOU think the sign means??

Like it? SHARE it!


  1. @Beet – welcome and thanx for following! Yeah, why go for the real, but dull meanings when you can make up your own?
    @Mrs T – just between you and me, that IS what it means … you’re the only one who’s sussed it out!!!

  2. @Mags118 – I’m starting to think that NOBODY understands them! Look at all the different interpretations here!
    @DD – welcome back! What do you mean, ‘attempt’?? This IS what they really mean!! And if you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you …
    @LV – working out what’s what is all part of the daily pleasure that is life downunder here in OZ!!

  3. Like street parking signs in Los Angeles, California….If I can’t make heads or tails of it, I go elsewhere. That looks fairly dangerous. Great attempt to unravel the mystery meaning, though.

  4. Hi,
    I’m sure there is no way our o/seas visitors would understand the stick figures, although I’m sure they would get a good laugh out of them.
    Love your interpretations, very well done.

  5. @Andrew – FAAAAAABULOUS! #1 great, and #3 superb!!
    @Windsmoke – Oh VERY good! This cements your reputation as a funnygirl!!
    @April – thanx for following, hope your week is great too … drop back anytime for an update!!
    @Jayne – Hahaha! But us outdoorsy types don’t use pocketknives when Leatherman tools are on offer!!

  6. @Toni – sadly, there’s a bit of a dearth of stick-figure-OZ-sign-translator jobs going …
    @Devi – Oh very, VERY good! LOOOVE your #3 – that was the most difficult one for me! Welcome back, thanx for following!
    @Pop Champagne – ah, those two fave words again! Strong anit-falling theme there – have you had a bad experience lately?!?!?!
    @Mary – haha! Perhaps ‘don’t move’ is the REAL message – come to think of it, that’s consistent with SA State Gov’t policy!!!
    @Manzanita – Hey, I never thought of the sign as a multicultural dance promotion! Well done!!
    @Betty – Yep, looks like non-verbal translation is my new career, judging from all these comments!

  7. 1: Watch that last step it’s a dosey :-).
    2: Bollard’s are there to stop you from falling over if you’re drunk :-).
    3: The wall is good protection from the sun, that’s if you’re a Vampire :-).
    4: Caution: High Winds :-).

  8. 1/ Beware pit toilets.
    2/ This way for limbo lessons.
    3/ Behave or god will smite you with his rock dispensing tube.
    4/ Roller blades allowed.

  9. Funny Bunny. I think they all say “Dancing allowed’ But if you have to do Flamenco be careful not to jar the rocks.
    Love and peace.

  10. The United Nations needs your skills:-). Having viewed the stick figures I was left with the impression that it would be best not to move at all. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  11. Loved your No. 1.!

    I’ll give it a go!

    No. 1. Be careful, one side of the slippery slide has no landing area.
    No. 2. Low ceiling, please leave softball bats on floor.
    No. 3. Spare heads available here.
    No. 4. Space inside is suitable for “Saturday Night Fever” discos.

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